Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

25 January 2007

I Just Don't Buy It

Let's forget about the Warrens, Bills and Steves for a second.

The Tila Tequilas, Larrys and Sergeis, Toms and Marks of this world say it loud and clear: there is no reason, absolutely NONE, that can justify this. (And I mean it. See Harsh Letter.)

The world is different. Nine-to-five was the dream of my parents' generation, a world where you put in cubicle time (two-thirds of your adult waking LIFE!), hit the bar and made babies. All for a good pension, a nice house and a decent social life.

That's not a bad lot. But it's no longer the only option. What's more, the excuses people made to get us to defer our dreams, excuses like, "There's only one Warren/Bill/Steve and millions of failures," no longer hold water when today's success story icons are racking up faster than we can learn their names - and they're getting younger and younger.

If we're honest with ourselves, we can find an outlet for whatever we want to do - and with streaming video, podcasts, blogs, wikis and tagging having turned us into actors, producers, editors, deejays and journalists, we have unlimited access to our own self-marketing arsenal.

We just have to be willing to take risks and commit to them.

To those who'd prefer to roll with nine-to-five, making this choice will look completely insane. That's okay. You have to consider that if you're going to lay claim to a personal passion, the majority is naturally going to reject the gameplan. But is the majority right? Look at where the majority is. Consider what you want.

Why the rant? Oh, no reason really. Aside from that the MySpace Empress herself just opened a casino. Tila's only 24, and there's nothing she did to rack up her fame that is inaccessible to us.

So beloved self-entitled Echo Boomers (meself included), please let's stop bitching and pull ourselves together. We're the most educated generation the US has seen thus far. We're more tech-savvy than previous generations. We want things our way and we're vocal about it.

We have all the makings of success. All we need do is want it enough to shoot for it. That's it. That's it and the world is yours. Ours. Whatever. Take it.

17 January 2007

Is There a Reason to Surrender the Foosball Table?

Hot off the heels of Time naming YOU its Man of the Year, Advertising Age crowns The Consumer Agency of the Year. Looks like we've got a new rock star.

You're hot. You're blowing up. Bask in those rays, then record your acceptance speech on YouTube. We won't just listen in total adoration; we'll even take notes.

It's really great that the mistakenly-named Little Guy is finally getting kudos for being an assertive customer who wants to one-up Ad Man and Big Business, but now that consumers are doing all the work, what are advertisers doing?

Handing over their jobs, that's what.

Everybody from the NFL to Dove is conducting send-us-anything consumer ad contests, presenting their "win a :30 spot!" pitches in a way that's stripped itself of any professional or creative guise in order to pander. It's safe to say marketers are responding to the consumer-is-king backlash by fanning the flames, happily handing over the rights to their mini b-ball courts, paycheques and ... jobs.

You've heard me mention before that you can really only be a great marketer if you know (or for those most lofty, remember) what it's like to be a consumer. I stand by that. I also maintain it's not news that the consumer has power - the consumer has always had power. From the beginning of the value dialogue, when mercantilism created scalable variety in the marketplace, people had the power to choose where to spend their money, and to relate feedback about the quality of our products and services to their friends.

Web 2.0 merely enables today's consumer to wield these same powers in a way that finally shakes businesses so significantly they have to listen. And that's good, because these days some businesses can get so big they forget that they have customers to answer to, with specific needs and opinions of their own.

Today a customer doesn't merely vote with financial capital; they can vote in critique, parody and even their own brand of investigative journalism, then reach an audience of thousands of sympathizers. That's incredible.

And now they want to talk to marketers about marketing. In fact, some marketers appear to think they want to take marketing on completely. That's a dangerous line of thought, and it doesn't necessarily yield the best results. Even the NFL's sad plea for consumer-generated ads ultimately ended with an ad guy winning the pie.

Big shocker? No, not really. The best marketers, like the best anything, have fallen in love with their profession. They can listen to the word on the street and engage it proactively without losing their own identities - and the identities of their brands - in the process. That's what makes them the best.

We're creative professionals. We spent years studying demographic trends and trying to wield emotions with one line, one graphic, one life-changing product. It's our job to generate great ideas of our own that engenders feedback and incorporates it in some way. We're trying to have a conversation with a society, not a master/slave dynamic. That turns our brands into faceless entities with OBO written across their logos.

Our customers, the people with whom we should have the most intimate relationship, are finally able to engage us in a two-way dialogue on a more even playing field - that's cause for celebration. But we've still got our own contributions to make to the big picture. We must still create work and generate interactivity in a way that's provocative and well-executed, because that is our job.

Our customers aren't trying to replace us - they've got their own dreams to follow. They're asking us to tell a story we might be missing, one that might add value to the images of the products and services we represent. Marketing needs collaboration between creative professionals and the people they're trying to talk to. Because marketing is, at its lowest common denominator, a conversation about the customer and about the immediate world. It's a running dialogue about us.

Don't trash your responsibility to your brands and society at large, letting whosoever wishes run the circus. We're trying to establish relationships here, not hand over the keys and the pink slip to the livelihoods we love. There's nothing lamer than trying to hold up a one-way conversation.

04 January 2007

More on Networking

A friend recently made a comment about what a dream it would be to get coddled, wined and dined on a company's tab. "It's not even work!" she snorted.

This topic gets a little touchy for me as people my age often make this generalization about the relationship management component of what I do, either in jest or in the spirit of deprecation.

Let me set the record straight.

It takes serious savvy to learn how to manage conversation's ebbs, flows and silences with people you hope to build meaningful relationships with - people you don't simply choose as friends.

That's the critical difference - these people aren't often friends you elected to make. You get together knowing full well you are meeting for a specific reason that has little to do, though perhaps this should change, with how much you like each other. In a few hours' time it is your dear goal to create a bond as intimate and trusting as an old boys' club, careful to keep silences warm and comfortable because if they veer into awkwardness then the liaison is dead.

Meanwhile you make the right jokes and say things that make you seem amply curious but not too pushy, ethical but not too uptight, witty but not scathing, playful and strong-willed all at once or depending, so people feel value not just in knowing you but in standing on your integrity as a ball-player. Finally, and this is going the extra mile, you have to create a setting so intimate they'll divulge critical details you couldn't otherwise learn from the outside.

It's fine work that takes a steady hand. I wrote an article called Ground Rules on Being a Team Player that elaborates on similar delicacies in an office environment.

Dealing with people gracefully and productively takes a demonstrated willingness to learn about them and stand your own ground. Some people, generally the ones most exposed to this type of relationship management work, grow fond of saying all the right things without investing a sense of sincerity in them. It is hard to trust these people with your ideas and your money.

It's easy to blow expense funds drinking with bullshit people, and it's easy to be a bullshit networker who brings nothing sincere to the table. Here's my more elaborated take on real networking. Obviously there's no clear science, because people are mutable and as many parts emotional as rational. But being sincere, warm and tough are running themes in my experiences.

Oh yeah, and the ability to not pick up the goddamn phone during an engagement. I can't think of anything more alienating than getting shut out all of a sudden by a douche who sticks a finger in my face and says "Hold that thought, I have to take this."

You're the face of your company, for crying out loud. Is that how you treat your customers too?

02 January 2007

Blogtag: 5 Coveted Secrets

Lea Salonga as Kim in Miss Saigon

Looks like I caught a bug. David Dahlquist and Tony Chung over at Geek What just tagged me in a game of secret divulsion. Once tagged, the person must write 5 things about him/herself that others may not know. Here are all the goodies you can convict me for later:

1. I walk on tiptoe, even barefoot.

2. I was and remain a Spice Girls fan. I thought it was over for me once they disbanded, but I watched a throwback documentary a couple of years ago and got teary-eyed.

3. In my childhood I performed classic Philippine courting songs like "Dahil Sa Yo" and dances like the tinikling for social gatherings. I hoped to one day be a star of Lea Salonga caliber and often practiced her Miss Saigon parts in preparation for my broadway debut.

4. I once told an ex-boyfriend I slanged in high school as part of an elaborate plan to get him to date me. I broke the truth about two in a half years into our relationship.

5. I knew for sure I was married to marketing when I saw Levi's "Lola" ad, the sex-infused spot with the girl who paints the jeans of her notches and hangs them in a gallery. I was hooked forever. If I could find it I'd probably have a braingasm.

The 5 bloggers I’m tagging:

I hereby exempt any and all who've been tagged in the last 6 months. Otherwise I think you've garnered up some juice by now. =)

Cheers and a happy new year to one and all.